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SPJ calls on Iran to release journalist


For Immediate Release:

Dave Aeikens, SPJ President, (320) 255-8744,
Scott Leadingham, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 211, sleadingham@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists is calling for the release of U.S. citizen and freelance journalist Roxana Saberi, who was detained in Iran on Jan 31.

Saberi’s arrest recently came to light when her father told National Public Radio’s Scott Simon that his daughter had been arrested. The details of her arrest and imprisonment are not fully known, a testament to the lack of information flowing out of Iran. Mr. Saberi reports that his daughter stated she was arrested for buying wine, which is illegal in Iran. He also indicated that the charge is likely a ruse to silence her for reporting from within the country, where she has lived for six years while working as a journalist and pursing a master’s degree in Iranian studies.

SPJ President Dave Aeikens spoke to Reza Saberi, Roxana’s father who lives in Fargo, N.D, on Monday.

“Roxana Saberi needs to be released and returned to her family immediately,” Aeikens said. “Journalists should not be jailed in any country for doing their jobs.”

While living and working in Iran, Saberi has reported for news outlets such as the BBC and NPR. A 2007 report for NPR by Saberi highlighted the campaign of Iranian police to crack down on women who dress improperly in public. She has also been pictured with Mohammad Khatami, the reformist former president of Iran who has clashed with the country’s conservative government.

Born in New Jersey, Saberi spent most of her youth in North Dakota, later representing the state in the 1997 Miss America pageant. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well- informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


NOTE: An earlier version of this news release contained a word-usage error. It has been corrected.

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